Growing up, I was taught that homosexuality was a sin, and that sin would send you to hell, if unrepented. So I just assumed that all homosexuals were going to hell, along with Jews, Muslims, and just about everyone else in the World, that didn't believe what WE did; the members of our church that is. Needless to say, I no longer believe that most of the things I was taught regarding religion are true.
Since I've began speaking openly about my experiences, spiritual evolution, and desire to promote universal Acceptance, I have been contacted by many members of my former Faith, either in an effort to "save" me, or to join me. However, I feel like I have been saved from the chains of narrow-mindedness, hate, and bigotry.
Don't Call me a N*****!
My Dad, who was not a professing Christian, would, at times, refer to Black people as N******, and would often poke fun of Gay people with a variety of crude remarks. The same type of behavior was common regarding fat people, Mexicans, Asians, Arabs, etc. His style was always laced with humor, and frankly, I laughed at times, although I knew my Mother would dissapprove, not to mention, I knew it was wrong. I figured it was just boys being boys.
I grew up with primarily White and Hispanic friends. We had very few Black people in our school, so my first real Black friend I met in college. One day, my friend Rickey had a nervous breakdown after many members of our mostly Hispanic baseball team kept calling him a N*****. I was infuriated, and tried to comfort him, but he had lost trust in people in general at that point. Rickey recovered, and we are friends to this day, but not as close as we once were.
My only really close Black friend lives in Los Angeles; his name is Byron. We've been friends for at least 15 years, and will be friends for the rest of our lives. I love him, and he loves me. We talk about all the problems of the World, and in our minds have solved them many times. He's taught me a lot about what it's like to be Black in the USA.
Over the past ten years, I've traveled around the World a few times, and seen a lot of things. If I've learned anything at all, it is that the World must be Heaven, humans are inherently good, and God is a mystery. If you have trouble accepting this as truth, visit the Maldives, spend a day with a child, and take a course on comparative Religion. In other words, and to say it nicely, open your mind, and your heart will soon follow.
Acceptance is Beautiful
A little over a year ago, I was driving by alone, and I had a vision of sorts. I imagined a human face. Not a face I'd ever seen before, but one that represented every person I'd never met; one without race, gender, or any other distinguishable feature that would allow one to judge or stereotype. I envisioned a face that could in fact represent a movement so powerful, it could end racism, and any other form of discrimination Worldwide; a face that could end War. A face that would represent Acceptance.
I later shared my vision with my wife and subsequently, my Mother-In-Law. So last August, I received one of the most incredible gifts, when my wife's mother gave me a painting of the face I had envisioned, but it was even more beautiful than I had ever imagined. After seeing the painting, I knew I had to share it with the World, so I had the painting digitized and put on t-shirts, with "Acceptance is Beautiful" below the face.
A few months later, Byron called me about an event he was putting on at SXSW in Austin, and asked if I'd be interested in launching the Acceptance movement at the concert. Not long after, I accepted the offer, and experienced a very successful launch. We had a number of celebrity endorsements, including Nana Meriwether, Herschel Walker, Connor Barwin, Warren G, Madison Hilldebrand, Richard Rawlings, and many more. Recenlty, a friend of mine sent me a text of a picture he saw on Facebook, where Anthony Spencer was being interviewed on Inside the NFL, and was wearing one of our t-shirts. It was pretty awesome to see that, and encouraged me greatly.
Although it would be much easier for me to spend the rest of my life dissproving that there even is a God, I choose to believe that there is, and that God is Love. Love is Acceptance, thus God is Acceptance. No matter a person's race, religion, sexual orientation, size, shape, or beliefs, everyone of us need Acceptance. Acceptance really is beautiful.
In spite of what some have assumed, Acceptance isn't solely a LGBT movement, it's a human movement. If you want to support our movement, please visit Acceptance.org and purchase a t-shirt, wear it proudly, and share our purpose. My passion for Acceptance is something I intend to take to my grave. It's something I must work on daily, but the more people that find themselves doing the same may ultimately render discrimination and inequality powerless. #dosomething